War Letters – Morotai: 21 Jan 1945, Hollandia; In transit at a US Air Force Camp

Hollandia
Sunday 21st Jan [1945]
6 am

Darling,

Just a short note asking you to do something for me.  I forgot about it when writing yesterday.  You will have found an illustration in the hall – will you ring Jack Santry and ask him if he would be good enough to take it in to Miss Mellion in the office?  I couldn’t manage it on my last trip in.

Interior, Transport Plane Evacuating Wounded
Interior, Transport Plane Evacuating Wounded
Awarded First Prize, Australia At War Exhibition, War
in the Air Section 1944-45
The plane is a Hudson bomber.

Also on the verandah is a painting of wounded in a plane interior – you know, the very green thing.  I think it is leaning against the cupboard out on the verandah.  Will you send me up the size in inches of the original – and also ask Jack Santry to take it into Ron Bennett whom I shall write respecting it?  How are you getting along without me to worry you?  I do hope you and the little man are doing well & eating all you should.  We are leaving early this morning for an island further along the coast.  Should get there about 3 hours after we leave.  This American camp is a huge place.  Thousands of Yanks swarm the hills.  They’ve even got between 100 & 200 service women with them.  I dare say that dame Staunton who came home is somewhere about.  French letters & prophylastic (sic) stations abound.

It is very quiet at the moment – no one up in the PR camp – no sound of birds in the jungle just beside the hill.  The silence is broken only by the roaring farting of the jeeps grinding up the hill on the right.  We eat at an officers mess about a mile & a half up the mountain which overlooks a magnificent lake curving round the foothills for miles upon miles.  It really is a beautiful spot.  That is more than you can say for the food.  Christ the Americans are sweet toothed eaters!  Expensive too – and little enough of it.  Jack Hickson gets around in a start of chronic hunger pain. 1/- for a breakfast of a sweet kind of egg bread soaked in syrup.  Coffee of course.  3/6 for lunch consisting of an indifferent vegetable ball covered with a thin sauce, slice of beetroot & frizzled dehydrated potatoes. No coffee but water with lemon, and flat cakes.  Dinner was a salad of pears & peaches with a near horse radish sauce – then tomatoe soup – roast beef & a slawish sort of cabbage & a substance which none could identify & none could eat – all topped off with a slopingly sweet chocolate pie.  Humm-mm!

War Correspondnet Jack Hickson taking shelter from the rain at H
War Correspondent Jack Hickson taking shelter from the rain at Hollandia airfield.
US Army Douglas C47 transport planes at what is believed to be H
US Army Douglas C47 transport planes at what is believed to be Hollandia airfield. The plane in foreground has serial number 100726.
21 x 11 cm
US Army Douglas C47 transport plane

It has just started to rain but I don’t think it will amount to much – the mountain this foothill is part of runs to 5800 ft & has been shrouded by clouds ever since our arrival so I guess one can expect a certain dampness to be our lot..

The boys are alright but I’d still prefer to be alone I think.  However we shall see what we shall see.  Haven’t done any work yet as we haven’t contacted RAAF stations.  Will be staying with one today.  Somewhere in the Schoeten Islands just off NG.

After being very short on cigarettes all yesterday & being unable to buy any off the yanks we managed to get a dozen cartons off an Australian canteen.  Whacko!  12 Guilders for the dozen! 1 Guilder is 3/4 to you mug – of course we intrepid newsmen are in Dutch Territory & now shiny guilders about where pounds fluttered before.

Lots of love sweetheart.  A big squiggle & tickle for little wep & regards to mum.

I’ll be seeing you.

Dear Willie.

1 Guilder note sent by Wep to Jess in his letter of 21 Jan 1945

1 Guilder note sent by Wep to Jess in his letter of 21 Jan 1945

That’s a guilder, little woman!

War Letters – NW Australia: 19 Aug 1943, Darwin; Death before dishonour!!

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
APO Darwin
Thursday Night
[19 Aug 1943]

Darling,

You won’t be getting another letter after this one for at least 4 days as I am leaving at dawn tomorrow.  Hope to get back here on Monday night.  I hope to heavens the sand flies grant me some mercy – otherwise I’ll be coming home an object of abhorrence with itchy excrescence liberally besprinkling my poor old bod.

It is 8pm at the moment & I sweat like a pig.  No better this morning – God damn it I’ll have to wait until Tuesday now before I know what gives out down there in Sydney.  The last letter I received from you was attached to the cutting re the much publicised Ron Bennett [Art Director at The Australian Women’s Weekly].  Pretty horrible to have all that stuff splashed about in a blasted rag like Truth {Sydney newspaper].  I should imagine Betty is slinking around in a hell of a state.  I notice she is not defending. Doesn’t seem much she can do about it.

Have done nothing today but tour the town during the morning and go for a swim in the afternoon.  The tide was surprisingly low and we had to walk about 300 yards from the high water mark across an absolutely flat and sloshy sea bottom to reach the water.  Another 100 yards or so till we were in water only up to Fred.  Did’nt fancy it much – kept thinking of sharks and the long run home.  Hermit crabs (tiny crabs which find an empty shell get inside it for protection and pull it around with them) lung fish (a small species of fish which can breathe out of water and come up on the sand for sunbaking) were in their hundreds squiggling and crawling all over the place.

Very little to report save the indignation and dismay of war correspondents who object to doing their own washing and ironing.  As OFFICERS & GENTLEMEN they claim a batman.  The Department of Public relations has recalled the original unit which was serving the crowd here and replaced it with a fresh bunch which is 2 men lighter & have issued an edict that the press men are not entitled to the rights of Army Officers who in this respect have all their work done for them by their individual batman.  There has been a great protest meeting – their dignity has been insulted.  What will the commoner think of to see them as Officers choring at the tub.  At the thought of it one goes purple in the face, another grows pallid, yet another shakes as with a palsy.  All by the grace of God are not speechless, indeed they as a body are extraordinarily vociferous both orally and in writing.  Typewriters are running hot, pleas & denunciations march forth in effort to regain the status quo.  I, like Pilate, wash my pants and say, “what is washing?”  It’s all very funny to me – I’m not staying.

3

At the moment of going to press the boys are not holding their own.  Urgent signals for reinforcements from newspaper proprietors have been sent.  The battle is begun.  I have designed the banners – newsprint drawers, pants and socks are hanging on the wireless aerial stretched across the mess.  Each bears an appropriate motto.  Death before dishonour!!

I hope nothing prevents my return on Monday as I want to be sure the telegram gets to you on Tuesday.  If it misses it won’t be my fault.

There is just a possibility you’ll get this letter on the wonderful 24th so if you do take it as a loving wish for lots more of them to come darling. We’ll celebrate both our tenth and your birthday on the 5th.  We’ll make it a real day my dear.  On the 24th do everything I’d like you to do and nothing I wouldn’t like and I’ll do the same.  The boys may have a bit of a party for us.  Have a good time yourself.  Once more – many returns.

And now bung-ho, wifie!

from husband.

War Letters – NW Australia: 7 Aug 1943, Strauss Airfield; Heading back to the Tap-house

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
A.P.O. Darwin
Sat morning
[ 7 Aug 1943]

 

Darling,

Am going back to the tap house this morning & am in great dither to get a letter once more.  It’s an isolated sort of life the folks live up here – each day rapidly becomes the same as another when one stays at the camp for any time.  Yesterday I’d just about had enough – I couldn’t draw – I was damned hot – I was full of ants – I wished I was home.

This morning it’s a bit cooler.  Naturally I’m somewhat stronger.

I haven’t written to the boys at the office yet but I suppose you give them some information at times.

Have found out some more details about Paul [comment – Maj. W.M. Paul?] which I can tell you when I return.

A pleasant little item you can tell the lads. A notice on the routine orders board –

“Advice has been received from the A.P.M. N.T. Forces that an aboriginal – Mary – has been apprehended in the [censored] area.  On being examined by the Medical Authorities she was found to be suffering from leprosy (advanced).  Any person having had contact with any native in the [censored] area is to report to the Squadron medical Officer immediately.”

A pretty thought.

There is not a great deal to do about a fighter squadron – one plane is the same as the rest of them.  Main concentration has been on the dispersal room which I indicated in drawing to you last letter.

AWW 1944-02-12 P6 Waiting for the mission IMG_3764 - Copy
Waiting for the mission, The Australian Women’s Weekly, 12 Feb 1944, p6

There is much uninspired letter writing done from here as after the first month all novelty is gone for the pilots.  For 3 or 4 months their routine is exactly the same every day.  Up early – arrive at dispersal hut – then lounge in deck chairs all day waiting for a raid which seldom arrives.  Must be colossally boring.  Their reactions come occasionally when they get roaring drunk.  Leave every 3 or 4 months which is much more than anyone else gets.  But these lads need it alright.

Be nice if I could work in some comfort.  Disabilities & heat have just about buggered me this week.  And yet I don’t care for Darwin – it’s too far from any of the material I want & there’s also the bloody typewriters.

The steward at the bar here is an amazing replica of Ron Bennett (emaciated) complete as to hair, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, etc.  Face a trifle narrower.  Ron’s old man must have been around.

Don’t need eye-drop prescription.  A drop a day doesn’t take any away.

Attached are life like drawings of press correspondents at work and play.

Lots and lotza to my lil’ honey chile

from the celibate

Will

Think I’ll come down in the Flying boat instead of wearying my way overland through Alice Springs.  A great squeeze for you.

Flash

An officer just came in with an official message.  Speaking of inter area personal communications over telegraph line.  Requested to cease.  Instances communication between air signals man & WAAF Signals women. “———-“ We could do with some WAAFs up here.”  Official comment is – This sort of thing must cease – if message such as this fell into enemy hands they would naturally surmise that a shortage of manpower existed in this area.